As cannabis becomes legal for medicinal or adult use in more places across the United States, the National Safety Council (NSC) is urging employers to restrict cannabis use for employees who hold safety-sensitive positions.
The Council defines safety-sensitive positions as those that impact the safety of the employee and the safety of others as a result of performing that job.
NSC says that safety concerns are paramount as cannabis decriminalization spreads across the country.
In a policy statement released on Monday, October 21, NSC states that even though research has shown that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that can be detected in the body does not directly indicate level of impairment, the Council believes at this time that there is no level of cannabis use that is acceptable for people working safety-sensitive jobs.
“Research clearly shows that cannabis impacts a person’s psychomotor skills and cognitive ability,” says NSC president and CEO Lorraine Martin. “In order to protect our employees and those around them, we need to acknowledge the impairing effects of cannabis. We urge employers to implement policies stating no amount of cannabis use is acceptable for those who work in safety sensitive positions.”
According to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says NSC, employees who tested positive for cannabis had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries, and 75 percent more absenteeism than those who tested negative.
In a 2019 NSC survey, 81 percent of employers responded that they were concerned with legal cannabis affecting their workforce.
While 71 percent indicated that illicit cannabis use by employees is covered in their company’s written policies, only 54 percent addressed employee use of medical or recreational marijuana.
Twenty-four percent of employers responded that they would terminate an employee found to be misusing legal cannabis and 7 percent said they would put them in a position of lesser responsibility.
NSC says that even while cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, there should be an increase in cannabis research to find a way to detect cannabis impairment and better-understand how marijuana affects the human mind and body.